For a moment, when visiting the exhibition ‘Options & Futures’ by Fiona Tan, I thought the sunny weather outside had changed into dreading rain. I listened to the raindrops falling on the roof.
But the ceiling of the exhibition space was not the roof of the building, as I expected. I was surprised, it was impossible that I was hearing raindrops. Likewise, the artist forces the audience to acknowledge the impact of man made disasters. It is impossible to pretend it is something else, but at the same time she is also confident in the aftermath. ‘Options & Futures’, an expression commonly used regarding financial affairs, is about more than so called banksters (banking gangsters).
What I thought to be rain, was actually a miniature railway with Märklin trains moving as part of the installation ‘1 to 87’ (2014) at the end of the back alley, constructed by this artist at the Rabo Art Zone. From the first step into this alley, it is clear that her art works are all connected with the financial crisis of these last six years. This recession has been a catastrophe to many. There are two key elements that reveal her theme. Firstly, there are either stacks of old financial newspapers, newspaper clippings or torn, discolored or broken items to be found in every room. Derailed carriages and trains are part of the mentioned installation. Secondly: this exhibition is hosted by one of the biggest banks of the Netherlands, the Rabobank.
The human kind with its greed or hideous, ever glorious prospects were responsible for the financial crisis. Before desperate times set in, wishful thinking was a normality. But who suggests that it was strictly banksters who made this happen, is mistaken. It were others with the urge for things bigger, better and more, as well.
Tan refers to ill luck in general and ‘up and downsides of our modern age; growth, blossom, decay and reconstruction. Nostalgia, reality and future perspectives collide’ (from the exhibition guide). However, the audience is mostly shown the force of destruction. In her video art abandoned villages, with houses and factories that are either torn to pieces or sealed with wooden boards, appear repeatedly. She also reveals newly built houses that haven’t even been finished.
While watching ‘Ghostdwelling III’ (2013), during the 5 and a half minutes length a Geiger counter increases fast, along with the continual, threatening sound. A car enters a countryside. A countryside that is empty since the tsunami of Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. The camera is inside the car and captures shots of cars, ships and all kinds of wrecked, wooden parts scattered around. And the absence of man. In the end the maker of this footage, presumably the artist herself, cannot go farther. She is stopped by a man wearing a mask and a red flag.
Despite the fact that this art show has written ‘disaster’ all over the place, Tan makes the audience think about one’s own options for the future, and about the gray area between prosperity and greed.
Derailing, man made disasters are real and will continue to appear. And also the aftermath of a catastrophe with the possibility of getting a second chance. I wonder if Fiona Tan wants us to keep up the spirit, as there will always be rain.
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This post is also available in: Dutch